By Claire Wanja

NAIROBI, The High Court has certified as urgent a case challenging a new law empowering the president to nominate Kenya’s Chief Justice.

High Court Judge Justice George Odunga Wednesday ordered that the case be heard inter parties (both parties) on Jan 13 during the High Court vacation.

Justice Odunga further directed the law Society of Kenya (LSK) to serve the Respondents (Attorney General and National Assembly) with the suit papers before the close of business Thursday.

“Both parties should be heard on 13th January as there is no possibility that the recruitment of the Chief Justice and his Deputy will be done within the next seven days,” Justice Odunga said.

The LSK moved to court under a certificate of urgency through and argued that the matter be certified as urgent and disposed of on a priority basis as the National Assembly had passed into law the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act 2015.

The Act contains amendments to Section 30(3) of the Judicial Service Act 2011 to take away powers of the JSC to appoint the Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice.

The LSK argued that the positions of both the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice are about to be vacant, and hence, it was absolutely important that the question of constitutionality of Section 30(3) of the JSC Act 2011 be determined urgently.

In its 120-page petition, the LSK is seeking for a declaration that Article 166(1)(a) of the Constitution does not require that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) submits to the President three names for appointment to the position of Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice.

It is also seeking a declaration that in accordance with provisions of Article 166(1)(a) of the Constitution, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is mandated to submit only one name for appointment to the position of Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice.

The LSK is also, among others, seeking a declaration that in accordance to provisions 259(11) of the Constitution, the President is bound by the recommendation of the JSC made under Article 166(1) of the Constitution.

Source: KBC